The environment we live in is the product of thousands of years of change and development, from the woodland clearances of prehistoric farmers to the houses and roads we build today. Every place and structure has a story to tell and plays a part in our sense of place.
The Historic Environment Record contains information on over 25,000 known sites across the county. A site can comprise a standing ruin, prehistoric or medieval earthworks, features identified on an aerial photograph, excavated remains, a church or other standing structure, industrial premesis or remains, the findspot of an object such as Bronze Age tools, Roman coins or medieval pottery in fact any material remains of Lancashires past. Historic landscape, townscape and buildings information is also held as well as aerial photographs and many reports on archaeological fieldwork and buidling recording.
Each site is recorded on a computer database and can be displayed on an electronic map or table. This allows fast searching, indexing and printing of information. The electronic record is backed up by sets of historic and current maps, individual record cards, and a range of site files, containing relevant background information. The form of the computerised record allows sites to be recalled using a variety of different characteristics, for example sites in a parish or group of parishes can be located, as can sites of a specific period or type. the record held include details of all Scheduled Monuments and Listed Buildings in the county, as well as information from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
The level of information and accuracy varies between records, depending on available sources. Some sites are known only from 19th century or earlier chance discoveries and their exact location may be vague. Others are based upon modern excavations or surveys which can produce much more detailed information.
The Lancashire Historic Envionment Record is continually being updated. Information on new sites and finds and additional details about existing sites has been provided by professional archaeologists, museums, local researchers and the general public.
The record is a public document and is used for a variety of purposes. A major use is in the development control process, as every planning application in Lancashire is checked against the Record. In this way potential threats to the archaeological heritage of the county can be assessed, and appropriate action taken. Developers, statutory authorities such as water and electricity boards, councils and other land managers often consult the Record when planning new projects, in order that the archaeological importance of the site can be taken into account early in the planning process. The Historic Environment Record, therefore, is a key tool in the management and protection of Lancashires heritage. professional archaeologists use the Record when undertaking field or documentary projects in the county, either for commercial or research purposes. Others consult the Historic Environment Record to learn more about the places where they live; students in schools and colleges use its information as a basis for project work and dissertations, and local history societies obtain data for their areas of interest.